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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Insight into the world of insider trading & crony capitalism on Capitol Hill via Peter Schweizer's new book; gets the 'Sixty Minutes' halo effect!

CBS News Sixty Minutes: Congress: Trading stock on inside information? Steve Kroft reports that members of Congress can legally trade stock based on non-public information from Capitol Hill.
Aired November 13, 2011, posted online at 4:02 PM

Transcript and story at:

Insight into the world of insider trading & crony capitalism on Capitol Hill via Peter Schweizer's new book, "Throw Them All Out"; gets the 'Sixty Minutes' halo effect!

So, I don't know whether or not you were able to see the powerful segment on CBS News' Sixty Minutes on Sunday with correspondent Steve Kroft interviewing Peter Schweizer of
the Hoover Institution -whose mailings, like those of AEI and Brookings, I've been receiving for well over 20 years- about his hot new book on the Congressional culture of insider trading that's long existed on Capitol Hill, and its current manifestation as crony capitalism, but if not, you were in the distinct minority among the well-informed set.
I guess you were probably watching NBC's far-too-long Football in America pre-game telecast.

(Surprise, NBC sports gave us a New York team playing again on national TV!
What are the odds of that? More of the unfortunate NFL/Madison Avenue nexus cramming down our throat of Cowboy, Jet & Giant games early in the season to get those network TV ratings up before the holidays, and the late-season cherry-picking which allows NBC to select games that are actually of interest to the greatest number of fans outside the East Coast!)

This particular story has absolutely blown-up, and is driving much of the discussion about Congress among the smarter and more-observant Beltway pundits and think tanks.
And this story has legs with the general public far from the Beltway precisely because everyone can understand exactly what it means; no translation necessary!

(Just asking: Is anyone at the Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel or South Florida's local TV news outfits actively asking who among our South Florida congressional delegation -or their spouses- has profited from this sweet pipeline to inside info and $$$Don't hold your breath!)

Today, a few hours later than I originally planned, I've got some of the things that have been said and written about the book that's caught fire and how it's arrived on the national stage at a most opportune time for both the public and the publisher.

Above, for your perusal, I've got the segment itself, and below, I've got a terrific Washington Post column by AEI's Marc A. Thiessen about the author -a friend of his- and this ethical subject du jour, along with some links to more blog posts about the book and what it says about the political class in Washington we currently have.

Crony capitalism and insider trading were something I heard discussed a lot, mostly in dribs-and-drabs during my 15 years living and working in the Washington, D.C area, at parties and get-togethers, formal and informal, all over the D.C. area, even up at Camden Yards during Orioles games, but always, of course, sotto voce.

And it goes without saying, always said after craning their neck around to see who was nearby before the magic words were spoken: "Dave, I don't know if you have heard but..."

The variation on this was usually something like, "Did you hear that the WSJ might be working on investigating the links between...?"

After awhile, in part because of my great memory and sheer repetition, I had practically memorized who was reportedly taking advantage of their position for financial gain, as well as the location of House and Senate members offices by heart, along with things that while not THE most-important things to know, still came in damn handy.

Things like knowing which House Post Office was most efficient and usually had extra FREE copies of Roll Call displayed longer in their lobby, in case I needed more, since I often mailed copies to friends from there, back in those pre-Internet days of yore, even sending a few to Bill Clinton in Little Rock in '91, long before he announced he was running; which soda vending machines always worked and were the coldest; which of the House and Senate cafeterias gave you the best value for your dollar -and had the quickest cashiers!; and which of the myriad House and Senate entrances were quickest to get thru when there was a horde of lobbyists descending on the Hill clogging up the works, based on which Capitol Police members happened to be manning the security areas.

In short, the very useful kind of info that you only obtain by actually being somewhere and which makes your daily schedule run more smoothly.

It's not a stretch at all to say that during the 1990's, I often felt like I lived in the Rayburn HOB and could find my way around the place blind-folded. The main plus, of course, was the number of very close friendships I made with staffers who were smart, thoughtful and dedicated, even while their boss or committee often weren't.
Relationships that came in handy many times over the years, and continue even today.

Not having read the book yet, I can't say with certainty whether or not there's anything good and juicy about former New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli, but his name was the first I thought of when I saw what the segment was about.

Frankly, I'd be surprised if there wasn't at least something about him, given that his name was the one I heard about more than any other with respect to taking advantage of his position to make money via tips and insider info. Someone who lived far beyond his means.


Marc A. Thiessen is a visiting fellow with the American Enterprise Institute and writes a weekly column for The WaPo.

The Washington Post
Marc A. Thiessen, Opinion Writer

Crony capitalism exposed
By Marc A. Thiessen
November 14, 2011

Insider trading is illegal — except for members of Congress. A Wall Street executive who buys or sells stock based on insider information would face a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and quite possibly a federal prosecutor. But senators and congressmen are free to legally trade stock based on nonpublic information they have obtained through their official positions as elected officials — and they do so on a regular basis.
Read the rest of the column at:

CBS News Sixty Minutes video: Correspondent Candids - Questioning Pelosi: Steve Kroft heads to D.C.
November 13, 2011 6:46 PM
Article and video at: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-57323518-10391709/questioning-pelosi-steve-kroft-heads-to-d.c/

Breitbart TV video: Democratic Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz calls on House Speaker John Boehner to take up "The Stock Bill" in response to revelations from Scweizer book.

See also:

Breitbart’s Big House
The conservative media firestarter opens up shop in Washington with a major story to sell.
By David Weigel|Posted Monday, Nov. 14, 2011, at 7:15 PM ET

Heritage Foundation
The Foundry blog
Heritage Foundation, Report: 80% of DOE Green Energy Loans Went to Obama Backers
By Lachlan Markay
November 14, 2011 at 10:43 am

From Schweizer's book, referenced above:

...But an examination of grants and guaranteed loans offered by just one stimulus program run by the Department of Energy, for alternative-energy projects, is stunning. The so-called 1705 Loan Guarantee Program and the 1603 Grant Program channeled billions of dollars to all sorts of energy companies…
…In the 1705 government-backed-loan program [alone], for example, $16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted as of Sept. 15 went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers—individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party. The grant and guaranteed-loan recipients were early backers of Obama before he ran for president, people who continued to give to his campaigns and exclusively to the Democratic Party in the years leading up to 2008. Their political largesse is probably the best investment they ever made in alternative energy. It brought them returns many times over.
Andrew Breitbart's Big Government blog is all over this story of congressional insider trading, much to the dismay of his many MSM critics: http://biggovernment.com/
Peter Schweizer's new book, Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison, is available via Amazon.com at

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